The Most Important Word in Marriage

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: In one word, what do you believe makes for a lasting marriage?

Answer: The one word I believe is most important to making a marriage last is COMMITMENT. After more than 48 years of marriage, I believe I can speak with some authority on this topic. That’s 48 years of MARRIAGE. We didn’t live together before we got married to see if we liked it or not. We got married so we could live together.

In years gone by, people got married so they could fall in love. For example, after Abraham Lincoln’s mother died, his father heard there was a widow in a town nearby, a lady he had known from his youth, so he went to town and got himself a wife and his children a mother.

According to David Herbert Donald, in his book Lincoln, it went something like this: “‘I have no wife and you no husband. I came a-purpose to marry you. I knowed you from a gal and you knowed me from a boy. I’ve no time to lose: and if you’re willin’ let it be done straight off.’ The two decided to marry and Lincoln paid her outstanding debts.”

Today, we believe we have to be in love to marry, but what we call love is little more than infatuation. Love grows with time because like anything else that grows, it takes time. 

Whether you are a religious person or not, the classic description of love is found in the Bible in the Book of I Corinthians, chapter 13.

4 Love is patient (longsuffering), love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (I Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV84)

Please note the characteristics of love. What does “longsuffering” and “is not self-seeking” have to do with romantic feelings? Probably nothing. But I do believe all of those characteristics of love noted in I Corinthians 13: Patience, kindness, putting the other first, humility, respect, a good temper, forgiveness, protecting, and trusting have much to do with COMMITMENT.

So, don’t expect every day of married life to be a bed of roses. Instead, remember the commitment you made when you said, “I do,” or “I will.” You can either be frustrated and upset that rose bushes have thorns, or you can be glad the thorny bushes produce roses.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]